MISCmedia MAIL for 12/28/15
Dec 27th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

Back from a three-day weekend and into what will probably be another slow news week, MISCmedia MAIL discusses a wisely-altered billboard; a strike back against upscaling the U District; a dead whale (soon to be a tourist attraction!); and as little about the Seahawks game as possible.

MISCmedia MAIL for 11/13/15
Nov 12th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

One less “public” news source; UW basketball’s season starts in Shanghai; many weekend activity listings; TPP vs. the “open Internet;” and a Mt. Rainier pint glass. All this and more in your Friday the 13th MISCmedia MAIL.
MISCmedia MAIL for 11/12/15
Nov 11th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

In Thursday’s MISCmedia MAIL: Remembering another practical li’l apartment building; a posthumous arts bounty from the Kingdome; the predictable truth behind the anti-Starbucks ranter; can KeyArena be rebuilt without taxpayer funds?
MISCmedia MAIL for 9/10/15
Sep 10th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

We’ve got some handy activity hints for school-struck kids in our Thursday newsletter. Also: China’s upcoming Seattle tech confab; a long-life drug for dogs; and “beeronomics.”

Aug 18th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

rolon bert garner

photo by arthur s. aubry (who himself passed on earlier this year), via earl brooks

We all knew he was going.

He’d had chronic COPD for many years. At his last Seattle public appearance, in early 2013, he’d looked frail, and had trouble talking for long periods of time.

But it was still a total bitch to learn that he’d died this last Monday morning.

Like many people commonly grouped as “’60s generation kids,”Rolon Bert Garner was already past his teens before the Beatles came to our shores. He’d grown up in Eugene to parents from Oklahoma. In Portland he’d cofounded Artech (a long-running regional art-supply and framing chain) before he came here to work for the Seattle Art Museum, circa 1969.

He was one of the original instigators of Bumbershoot in 1971, and one of the creators of its visual-art component (then a much bigger part of the festival than it is now).

He was involved with the multi-disciplinary arts center and/or (1974-84).

He curated and designed exhibits, installations, and temporary “pop-up spaces.”

He installed exhibits (choosing which pieces went where) at the Frye Museum and many local galleries.

He helped produce private events, including fashion shows for Nordstrom.

With Virginia Inn owner Patrice Demombynes, Garner pioneered the idea of art exhibits in local bars. (He and Demombynes had their own gallery space on Dexter Avenue for a couple of years.)

He continued to curate art on barroom walls as a co-owner of the Two Bells Tavern (with wife Patricia Ryan, who passed in 2001). He’d been a bartender there before Ryan bought the place circa 1982, then married her in 1984. Under Ryan and Garner, the the rundown little bar on a low-foot-traffic stretch of Fourth Avenue became the virtual living room for the then-burgeoning Denny Regrade arts community. When Ryan’s cancer got too bad for her to continue running it, they sold it and retired to the country.

Garner was also an artist in his own right.

His last show of paintings, a career retrospective at the Virginia Inn two and a half years ago, was full of bright colors, underground-comix-esque lines and curves, and an old hippie’s lifelong interest in semi-abstracted nudes.

And he was a conceptual artist. With Ken Leback, he created the public-art piece Equality (a grid of Monopoly-style houses) on north Beacon Hill.

I’d been going to the VI since 1981, and to the Bells since at least 1985.

I knew Garner as a smart, soft spoken, often funny presence.

After I started MISC as a column in the old ArtsFocus paper, he supported and encouraged my work. (It took me years, though, to convince him I wasn’t just making up the things I wrote about in it.)

 He did so many things, in so many places, that it was hard to imagine a local arts scene without him.

And it still is.

Feb 4th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

I stayed off of social media (except for my classic-cartoon Facebook groups) after the Seahawks’ devastating last-minute loss (or rather failure to win) in Super Bowl Eks El Eye Eks.

I’m still not ready to see any replays of that fatal last play, or to really discuss it.

But I will say this:

After cheating death so many times, the Seahawks’ lucky streak finally ran out with one ill-advised pass play at the game’s end.

But that single moment can’t erase the team’s great achievements this season and last.

And it can’t lessen how coach Pete Carroll and the players (including and perhaps especially Marshawn Lynch) have performed, both on the field and as members of the larger community.

The game telecast provided an intriguing addendum to our recent story about Anheuser-Busch taking over the local Elysian craft brewery and brew-pub chain.

Just over a week after the Elysian announcement, AB ran a Super Bowl commercial touting Budweiser as the drink of choice for real beer drinkers, not those artsy craft-beer snobs who go for “pumpkin peach ale.”

I.e., just the sort of product that Elysian has made, marketed, and championed.

Jim Vorel at Paste calls the spot “hypocritical” and “anti-craft-beer.”

I call it big corporate pseudo-anti-elitism.

You can just call it dumb.

Jan 24th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

There will still be four Elysian brewpubs in Seattle.

There will still be various Elysian beers on tap and in bottles at bars, restaurants, and stores in the region and beyond.

There will still (probably) be an Elysian Brewery on Airport Way South, not far from the old Rainier Brewery.

But they’ll all be owned now by AB InBev (doing business in this country as Anheuser-Busch).

The Belgian beer conglomerate that bought Budweiser (and commands 47 percent of the nation’s total beer sales) is now buying up craft brewers around the country. Just weeks ago, it snapped up Oregon’s 10 Barrel. It already owns 32 percent of the now-merged Redhook and Widmer Brothers.

And now, Elysian has joined the empire.

The craft brewers’ national trade group, the Brewers Association, automatically expels any member company that sells out to AB or MillerCoors. (However, the group altered its rules a few years back to allow Boston Beer (Sam Adams) to remain in the group.)

For almost 19 years now, starting with a single (albeit spacious) brewpub in the Pike/Pine Corridor, Elysian has steadily become a big fish in the no-longer-so-small pond of regional craft brewers. Its product line has included over 350 different brews over the years, many of them short-term and seasonal (like its annual pumpkin ales). Its products are distributed in 11 states and two Canadian provinces.

One of those products is Loser Ale, originally introduced as a promotional tie-in with Sub Pop’s 20th anniversary in 2008. Its slogan (based on Kurt Cobain’s hand scrawled T shirt on a Rolling Stone cover, which in turn was based on SST Records’ old slogan): “Corporate Beer Still Sucks.”

Many “craft beer” drinkers see their choice of drink as meaning a lot more than just a matter of quality product. They think of indie beer (just as many think of indie music) as a crusade of the Regular Folk fighting back against a bland, monolithic corporate culture.

But should they?

As Kendall Jones writes at the Washington Beer Blog:

The sky is not falling. This is not a sign that the end is near. There are still over 3,400 breweries in America that Anheuser-Busch does not own…. As craft beer lovers, we’ve been taught that Anheuser-Busch and the other big beer companies are our enemies. So what gives? Is Elysian now evil? Not in my mind, but that’s a decision you’ll have to make for yourself.

Another view on the Elysian sale comes from Jeff Alworth at the Canadian blog Beervana, who ties Elysian’s past success to its savvy local management:

It’s long been my favorite Washington brewery, and it’s always my first stop when I hit Seattle. It has always seemed the most Seattle of the Seattle breweries—an extemporaneous brewery that could be equal parts gritty and urbane and credibly support local sports teams or indie bands. Elysian always seemed to be right where Seattle was at the time….

Just because a brewery is local doesn’t mean it can channel the local mores, culture, and zeitgeist. Elysian could and did—which is a big part of why they were so good. Can they still do that as a division of AB? In the short term, almost certainly. But I fear we’ve lost a little bit of what made Seattle Seattle.

If, as Elysian’s owners publicly insist, joining the big boys was the only way to support the company’s continued growth and to fund further expansion, maybe there’s a natural business limit to how big a microbrewer can be and still remain independent (if no longer truly “micro”).


In other news:

  • Chop Suey, the venerable live-music club located not far from the original Elysian brewpub, may remain open (or rather, reopen) after all.
  • Here’s how out-of-it (locally) I’ve been: Richard Hugo House, the city’s premier writing and literary-arts center, is getting demolished and rebuilt at the same site. Didn’t even know.
  • The Seattle City Council and City Attorney Pete Holmes apparently believe sex workers will be less abused by pimps and traffickers if we just create harsher penalties for sex-work customers. Uh, no; it doesn’t work that way. Try again. This time, try to work on the pimps and traffickers themselves (and on support services for the workers).
  • There’s still no real replacement for the still-mourned Fun Forest amusement area at Seattle Center. But we may be getting a 1,000-foot water slide this summer.
  • Our pal Lindy West remembers the cool stuff found in the now-bankrupt SkyMall catalog, and also ponders whether its fate is that of all that is fun and quirky.
  • Hershey, which owns all U.S. rights to Cadbury products, is moving to stop the grey-market imports of the British-made chocolate goodies.
  • Print books are bouncing back, according to recent sales figures. The “literature is doomed” crowd will, I’m sure, simply ignore these figures and continue its wailing-and-gnashing-of-teeth.
Sep 27th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey


  • The thorough folks at Seattle Globalist traced UW-licensed apparel items back to the places where they were made, to the people who made them, and to how much more the people who made them would need to earn to meet the local cost of living.
  • Speaking of apparel, BuzzFeed’s got some sorry evidence of pathetic attempts to turn punk rock nostalgia into mere fashion-fad fodder.
  • Still speaking of apparel, Sesame Street really doesn’t like unauthorized “Sexy Big Bird” Halloween costumes. (You can still get the “Pho King Hot” waitress costume, though.)
  • Why is Storyville Coffee, a single espresso and pastry boutique in the Pike Place Market, spending so much on lavish pre-opening marketing (including a month of free food and drinks for invited guests)? Because (1) it’s the first unit of a planned chain, and (2) it’s got the zillionaire behind a for-profit college backing it. (And as an aside, the owners also have ties to the “hip” but reactionary Mars Hill Church.) (And as another aside, do they even know they’ve named it after New Orleans’ old red-light district?)
  • Can the scenic, low-density office “park” that is the ex-Battelle Research campus in Laurelhurst be saved? And should it?
  • Eric Stevick at the Everett Herald has the sad life story of a woman who basically never got a break her entire life, and then died in the Snohomish County jail because they wouldn’t send for medical help.
  • Bumper salmon runs! Yay! Just, you know, keep ’em away from the dogs.
  • Pasta-and-pride dept.: Barilla’s CEO doesn’t care much for the gays, but Bertolli (hearts) the gays. Or something like that.
  • Bono wants a more equitable tax system in Ireland, but will still keep his own millions stashed away in offshore trust accounts.
  • Could Google’s latest search-ranking changes finally kill off that bane to humanity that is “Search Engine Optimization”?
  • Ted Cruz apparently didn’t understand that Green Eggs and Ham is a liberal allegory about open mindedness. But he’s yesterday’s news. Today’s news is the conservatives’ next showdown target, the debt ceiling.
  • Do they serve Hello Kitty beer on the Hello Kitty plane?
  • Let’s leave you today with some visual inspiration, of sorts, in the form of “Terrible Real Estate Agent Photos.”


Sep 26th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

pelican bay foundation via capitolhillseattle.com

First, another “sorry folks” for not getting something up to the site lately. I know some of you enjoy these li’l linx, even when I don’t have a major essay about something.

For now, back to Randomosity:

  • The mural at the Kingfish Cafe’s building on east Capitol Hill (see above) dates back to the ’70s and to a noble experiment in cooperatively-run artist housing. Read the comments to learn how it collapsed.
  • A Bloomberg commentator decries Amazon’s South Lake Union “geek zone” as a swath of real estate “cursed by dullness.”
  • Amazon’s newest Kindle Fire tablet has one “killer app” selling point: live, human, tech support!
  • Getting the Rainier Beer “R” logo back up on the ex-brewery building will be nice. It would be even nicer if the brand’s current owners would make it here again, instead of at the Miller plant in the L.A. exurbs. There’s gotta be enough excess microbrewery capacity in Washington to make that possible.
  • (Rhetorical) question of the day: Would the local Caucasian model who donned black body paint for a fashion shoot make a good (rhetorical) question for the blog Yo, Is This Racist?
  • As discussed earlier this year at EMP, the likes of Miley Cyrus are, no matter how superficially “transgressive,” still the product of a star-maker machine that subjects female pop singers to a “packaging process.”
  • When it comes to regressive taxation against the poor, we’re (still) number one! (But Washington’s still a “progressive” state because we love gays and pot, right?)
  • A local grocery strike looks more likely.
  • An “adjunct professor” in Pittsburgh died a horrid death, without savings or health insurance. This is a facet of the status quo the Obamacare-bashing right wingers so desperately want to preserve. (Another facet: the cuts to mental health services that leave the dangerously untreated on the streets.)
  • No, Huffington Post,“Generation Y” folks don’t particularly feel “special” or “entitled.” Poverty-stricken and opportunity-deprived, yes.
  • Could “Internet workers” be subject to minimum wage laws? I sure hope so. And the same goes for other freelance and “for the exposure” workers, who are workers indeed.
  • I don’t need to view condom-free porn videos because, unlike apparently a lot of self-describing “straight” men, I’m indifferent toward the sight of other men’s parts.
  • And to help you politely refute specious “comment trolls” online and in “real” life, here’s a handy li’l Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments.

ali almossawi

    RANDOM LINKS FOR 5/28/13
    May 28th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey


    • KUOW has a handy guide to Seattle’s “public spaces that appear private.”
    • There’s a downside to making big popular parks out of former U.S. Navy installations. Magnuson Park turns out to have lots of radioactive, contaminated soil.
    • Wash. state ranks #49 in supporting public colleges and universities. This is not like being a Mariner fan, where being even ahead of one other team is a call to point with pride.
    • Some website I’d never heard of before says Seattle’s “most photographed attraction” is the Elephant Car Wash sign. (Gee, even more than the toothache-man gargoyle?)
    • The Illinois company calling itself Boeing used to have big battery design skills in-house. Then outsourcing mania took over. Result: the 787 disasters.
    • You know how I disdain the marketing company calling itself Pabst Brewing, due to its role in closing the Rainier and Olympia breweries while keeping their brands alive in zombie form. Cracked.com also hates Pabst, but for a different reason: for virtually inventing that commonly despised character type known as the “hipster.”
    • South Carolina Republicans, faced with popular legislation promoting renewable energy sources, rigged a faked “voice vote” to defeat the measure.
    • Daily Kos diarist “markthshark” claims the real IRS scandal is how all those blatantly partisan Tea Party groups got to file as nonpolitical nonprofits in the first place.
    • Are angst and misery really due to a single “great glitch” built into human nature?
    • Paul Krugman sez, “being a good liberal doesn’t require that you believe, or pretend to believe, lots of things that almost certainly aren’t true; being a good conservative does.”
    • The police backlash against protesting garment workers in Cambodia wasn’t at a “Nike factory,” which the hereby-linked headline claims. It was at a locally owned company taking outsourcing work from several Western clothing firms, all of whom can thus take “plausible deniability” about conditions and worker abuse.
    • Some of the outdoor sets from the original Star Wars are still standing, and decaying, in Tunisia.


    RANDOM LINKS FOR 2/22/13
    Feb 22nd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

    • Seattle artist Ellen Ziegler’s mom was a ballet dancer—and a onetime girlfriend of the great Mexican comic actor Cantinflas. Ziegler’s turning this story into a very-limited-edition art book.
    • In other news about local women and art and books and images of hotness, Charlotte Austin and Ciolo Thompson have created The Better Bombshell. In it, a variety of writers and artists of both genders contemplate that age-old issue of female role models and what they should be now.
    • Online “cyber-bullying” isn’t just for teens anymore. The disgraced now-former Snohomish County executive did it too.
    • The Oatmeal explains why “How to Suck at Your Religion.” (Essentially: if you preach brotherhood but practice bigotry, etc….)
    • The drive to preserve the Bauhaus coffeehouse’s building, by getting it named an official historic landmark: rejected.
    • The lawsuit challenging the Sonics arena scheme: rejected.
    • Even Republicans believe Tim Eyman’s “lying whore” comment against Gov. Inslee went too far.
    • PONCHO, granddaddy of Seattle arts fundraising groups (and inventor of the “charity auction”), is no more.
    • Can private tech colleges, charging $30,000 or more for degree programs, really solve Wash. state’s learning gap?
    • Eastern Washington, now with more radioactive sludge.
    • Life imitates Portlandia, at least 30 times.
    • Chuck Thompson at the New Republic derides microbrews, and the brewpubs who sell them, as icons of silly urban gentrificaiton. But they’re really, really tasty icons of silly urban gentrification.)
    • The sad tale of the “food critic on Food Stamps” finally has a happy ending. Ex-Tacoma News Tribune restaurant reviewer Ed Murrieta finally found a job, after spending years among the long-term unemployed. He now writes blurbs for Sacramento’s tourism board.
    • In Virginia, a white mom wants white kids not to have to read books about past racial violence.
    • I know I’m not the only one who still remembers LaserDiscs, those 12-inch analog video discs that were the best way to see movies at home in their day.
    • Here’s an artistic vision of a future car-free Manhattan, funded by (who else?) a car company.

    RANDOM LINKS FOR 7/27/12
    Jul 27th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

    1931 soviet book jacket; new york public library via allmyeyes.blogspot.com

    • Love old timey design elements in photography, fashion, furnishings, books, posters, ads, packaging, and everywhere else? Then you’ll love Linda Eckstein’s fastidiously curated site All My Eyes.
    • Conversely, Angela Riechers at Print magazine’s site disdains all this obsessive old-schooling. Riechers claims the world of graphic design, and perhaps the world as a whole, is becoming infested with “toxic nostalgia.” Among the symptoms she sites is Churchkey, the Seattle microbrew beer that comes only in cans that require an opener.
    • Amazon’s sales rose 29 percent over the same quarter last year. But the company reported almost no profits, thanks to big investments in robotic warehouse systems. (Remember what we always say when robots are in the news: “Nothing can possibly go wrong….”)
    • David Brewster found someone to take over management of the local-punditry site Crosscut. He’s a longtime functionary at the Gates Foundation. Let’s see how well he can transition from a nonprofit that doesn’t have to raise money, to one that needs to do a lot of that and soon.
    • At the end of a long rant, Paul Constant describes Mitt Romney as:

    A cowering man in a suit on the screen, waving his hands in front of his face and begging Robocop not to kill him for profiting, for draining the United States dry and exploiting the pain and hard work of others, for doing what businessmen do.

    • Meanwhile, Devin Faraci at something called Badass Digest describes The Dark Knight Rises as feeling “like it is composed entirely of knee-jerk conservative nonsense.”
    • A (non-cable-dependent) TV network tells you how you, too, can cut the cable.
    RANDOM LINKS FOR 4/24/12
    Apr 23rd, 2012 by Clark Humphrey


    • Margarita flavored Bud Light: sign of the apocalypse #6 or #7?
    • Winning bids for the state liquor stores (or rather, for the right to apply for licenses, negotiate leases, and take over inventory at the stores) are now in. Individual winners have apparently not yet been posted anywhere, but the store at 12th Avenue and East Pine Street went for a cool half million. The state’s total take (should all the sales go through): over $30 million, more than four times estimates reported just last Friday.
    • Yesterday, we mentioned how Deluxe Junk, the lovely vintage everything store that’s one of the last remnants of “Fremont funk.” faced a sudden eviction by the Masonic lodge that owns its building. Apparently there’s a settlement; alas, Deluxe Junk will still leave the premises, at the end of June.
    • The Real Change folks will get their protest camp in Westlake Park after all.
    • One little-publicized event at the big Space Needle anniversary gala: a protest by Needle restaurant workers.
    • The Canucks have made sure there won’t be riots in the Vancouver streets this June.
    • Here’s a long, loving profile of ex-Seattleite and comix genius Lynda Barry.
    • Google and Facebook: They’re hot now, but could they stumble as computing goes mobile?
    • Author Michael J. Sandel places blame for the market-ization of almost all of western society. He says the economists did it.
    • Paul Krugman blasts Romney, assuredly not for the last time.
    • A Georgetown prof really dislikes the Facebook-spawned overuse of the verb “Like.”
    • Toby Litt in Granta wonders whether long-form literature can hold an audience, or even be considered relevant, in an age of multitasking and incessant distraction. I say bah. Folks who can finish umpteen-level video games or watch entire TV-show seasons in one weekend can enjoy a story of a few hundred pages.
    • Sorry, but I can’t trust any list of the “ten most harmful novels for aspiring writers” that excludes Bukowski.
    • The top black women’s magazine hired a white guy as managing editor. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, that he turned out to be a not-so-secret racist wingnut.
    • Steven Pearlstein reminds you that some politicians actually want you to be turned off from politics. Remember: Not voting = voting a straight right-wing ticket.
    • Making stuff in China will cease being cheap sooner or later. China’s other outsourcing advantages might remain (lax environmental enforcement, autocratic government, brutal suppression of dissent).
    • TV ratings, both broadcast and cable, are way down, especially among younger viewers, and especially in terms of “real time” viewing (i.e., without DVRs; i.e., with the commercials). The hardcore TV haters will naturally ignore this, and will continue to insist that Everyone Except Them is a vidiot sheeple.
    RANDOM LINKS FOR 3/29/12
    Mar 28th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

    ap photo via newstimes.com

    • At the time of this writing, the Seattle Mariners are in first place as the winningest team in Major League Baseball! (This may be subject to change by the time you read this.)
    • In other sporting news, the Husky men’s basketball team valiantly lost its NIT semifinal game in overtime; thus tying for the status of this year’s 71st best college team.
    • You might be able to ski on the Fourth of July around here this year.
    • Two years in the making, the downtown Target is set to finally open on July 29.
    • Metro Transit’s downtown Ride Free Area ends two months after that.
    • Meanwhile, Washington’s first food-only Walmart store is about to open at an ex-Kmart site in Bellevue.
    • One-third of all homes sold in King County these days are sold for all cash (i.e., to speculators or rental operators).
    • An Army PR guy says Joint Base Lewis-McChord is “not having any issues that other Army bases aren’t having, too.”
    • This is from October but still fascinating—an in-depth look at the Columbia River, its watershed, its hydroelectric industry, its fishery, and the people who try to balance the needs of each.
    • Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon would really like you to know there really are non-wingnut Christians out there.
    • The rumored Apple-branded TV set is still just a rumor. But Farhad Manjoo at Slate reports that Microsoft’s XBox already brings the magic of online streaming-video search to TV sets.
    • Slate also has a fond remembrance to the inventor of the frozen bagel and a handy guide to Quebeçois cuss words.
    • Now we know why Bud, Miller, and Coors all sold out to foreigners. Light-beer sales are in a nosedive, perhaps a permanent one.
    • John Cassidy at the New Yorker claims the right-wing assault on health care reform, as seen this week at the Supreme Court, is “a very bad joke.”
    RANDOM LINKS FOR 3/16/12
    Mar 15th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

    washington beer blog via seattlepi.com

    First, thanks to the more than 50 people who crowded Roy St. Coffee and Tea for the History Cafe presentation on old Seattle restaurant menus Thursday evening. And thanks to my fellow panelists Hanna Raskin and Taylor Bowie for making it easy for me. Each of them had so many insights about the old restaurants, their menu designs, their food items, and their respective places in cultural history, that I didn’t have to say much.

    • Seattle’s newest microbrewery has a gimmick. It puts out its pilsner in old fashioned steel cans that need a can opener. The company’s appropriate name: Churchkey Can Company.
    • Annie Lowrey at Slate has the strange tale of a true “computer hacker” in the old, non-criminal definition of the term. He was a programming genius who supplied his innovations to, and supported the goals of, the open-source software movement. Before he abruptly and completely withdrew from public life.
    • At least half the traffic on the Internet isn’t supplied by human computer users, but by automated spambots, information-stealing “scrapers,” and search engines.
    • America’s most progressive-leaning broadcaster (or at least the outfit with that reputation) has just hired a union-buster consulting firm.
    • Branding consultants Susan Lee and Jenny Laing claim the Occupy movement represents a great new opportunity to sell stuff.
    • “The world’s most annoying song,” according to one Jason Richards, is not “Paradise City.” I see no reason to believe anything this Richards person says.
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